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  1. 1. Boron<br />Atomic Weight10.811Density2.46 g/cm3Melting Point2075 °CBoiling Point4000 °C<br />Full technical data<br />Boron is found in the common mineral borax, but is rarely seen in pure form, as in these polycrystalline lumps. While extremely hard, boron is too brittle in pure form to have any practical applications.<br />Cubic boron nitride inserts.<br />This very expensive ($70 list, $20 on eBay) milling bit insert is only about half an inch wide, but incredibly hard and long-wearing in applications involving continuous cutting of hardened steels (grade BNX20). For that price it better be!<br />It has a cubic boron nitride coating over a cemented tungsten carbide base.<br />Source: eBay seller cutting edge tool<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 17 April, 2009<br />Text Updated: 17 April, 2009<br />Price: $20<br />Size: 0.6" <br />Purity: <10% <br />Boron carbide engine sabotage can.<br />Boron carbide is very hard and can thus be used for grinding. In this case, the idea is to pour some of the dark, oily liquid in this can into the oil supply of an engine in order to cause it to grind itself to a halt. I assume the cylinders either become scored to the point that they can't hold compression, or maybe become jammed by the grit. In any case, this is something you would do only under dire circumstances, for example in war (as this can was intended for), or to an ex-girlfriend or something. Not that I'm recommending that, you could get in big trouble.<br />Source: eBay seller 4slghmr87<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 8 December, 2007<br />Text Updated: 8 December, 2007<br />Price: $66<br />Size: 3" <br />Purity: <20% <br />Boric acid tin.<br />Boric acid has some medical applications: The back side of this tin recommends it as an eye wash. It's also used as ant poison.<br />Source: eBay seller 4thegrace<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 16 March, 2007<br />Text Updated: 16 March, 2007<br />Price: $2.50<br />Size: 3" <br />Purity: <50%<br />Sample Group: Medical <br />Boron Nitride ceramic disk.<br />This ceramic-like disk came from a scrap yard and was claimed to be or contain boron. I don't think its pure boron, but it could well be a boron nitride ceramic. Unfortunately the analytical instruments available to me don't work on low atomic number elements, so I have no good way of testing what it really is.<br />Source: John Wechselberger<br />Contributor: John Wechselberger<br />Acquired: 15 April, 2004<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 4.5" <br />Purity: <50% <br />Bottle of lumps.<br />This is a small bottle's worth of boron lumps similar to the single lump listed above. It represents my element tax extracted on a one kilogram can purchased by Max Whitby for use in the series of museum displays we are building together.<br />Source: Max Whitby of RGB<br />Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB<br />Acquired: 5 October, 2003<br />Text Updated: 11 August, 2007<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 0.75" <br />Purity: 99.9% <br />Sample from the Everest Set.<br />Up until the early 1990's a company in Russia sold a periodic table collection with element samples. At some point their American distributor sold off the remaining stock to a man who is now selling them on eBay. The samples (except gases) weigh about 0.25 grams each, and the whole set comes in a very nice wooden box with a printed periodic table in the lid.<br />Source: Rob Accurso<br />Contributor: Rob Accurso<br />Acquired: 7 February, 2003<br />Text Updated: 29 January, 2009<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 0.2" <br />Purity: >99% <br />Sample from the RGB Set.<br />The Red Green and Blue Company in England sell a very nice element collection in several versions. Max Whitby, the director of the company, very kindly donated a complete set to the periodic table. <br />Source: Max Whitby of RGB<br />Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB<br />Acquired: 25 January, 2003<br />Text Updated: 11 August, 2007<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 0.2" <br />Purity: 95% <br />Silly putty. <br />Silly putty contains about 4% boric acid, which is critically important for its bounce characteristic. See here for a reference.<br />Source: Ed Pegg Jr<br />Contributor: Ed Pegg Jr<br />Acquired: 10 December, 2002<br />Text Updated: 11 August, 2007<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 1" <br />Purity: 2% <br />Very Odd Lump. <br />This is a strange-looking lump of solid pure boron. It has several different kinds of surfaces, as you can see if you click on the picture to see the large version. I would love to know more about the means by which this lump was made.<br />Reader Graham Cowan offers the following theory:<br />" In 1985, Callery repurchased reserve pentaborane fuel from the military and reprocessed it into elemental boron. When this became unprofitable ..." <br />Pentaborane, B5H9, is like all B-H compounds unstable with respect to dissociating into B and H2, so the only processing necessary would have been to heat it in the absence of air and water. (Probably in argon.)<br />Your nice big photo shows nodular surfaces and fracture ones. I think the nodular surface is where the gaseous BH stuff laid boron down on the hot lump.<br />--- Graham Cowan<br />Here is his interesting page about boron as a fuel.<br />And as you can see below, this lump was considerably more cost effective than our first attempted sample.<br />Source: David Franco<br />Contributor: Ed Pegg Jr<br />Acquired: 16 August, 2002<br />Text Updated: 11 August, 2007<br />Price: $12<br />Size: 0.5" <br />Purity: 99.9% <br />Outrageous price quote. <br />Our first attempt at a boron sample involved Ed calling up a chemical supplier. They helpfully supplied a price quote of $2030 (two thousand and thirty dollars American) for one square inch of boron foil. We respectfully declined the offer. You might think that boron would be fairly inexpensive, given that it's dirt common and is the major component of things like Borax. But it turns out it's insanely difficult to fuse and work with, so formed shapes of it is quite unreasonably priced. We are preserving this price quote as a reminder of how much money can be saved by using eBay instead of chemical companies.<br />Source: Ed Pegg Jr<br />Contributor: Ed Pegg Jr<br />Acquired: 15 July, 2002<br />Price: $0/Nothing<br />Size: 1" <br />Purity: 0% <br />Painite. <br />Sample of painite (Ca Zr B Al9 O18 hex.), Mogok, Myanmar (Burma). Extremely rare crystals. 0, 6x0, 3x0, 2 cm the bigger; 1 g all;<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 24 March, 2009<br />Text Updated: 25 March, 2009<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 0.25" <br />Composition: CaZrBAl9O18 <br />Compact flash card hard drive. <br />This is just crazy. When I first heard about these things my jaw literally dropped (not literally). They are obsolete now, having been hopelessly beaten by solid state flash memory, but in their day they were the highest capacity compact memory cards available, up to 8GB by 2008 (by which time 64GB flash memory cards were available).<br />And they are mechanical hard disk drives. Let me remind you of the dimensions of a compact flash card (type II): 1.4" x 1.7" x 0.2" (36.4mm x 42.8mm x 5mm). The platter in this drive is about 1" (2.5cm) in diameter. It's just crazy small. There's an electric motor spinning the platter, an electro-magnet that moves the read-write heads back and forth, the whole works, plus of course all the control and interface electronics, packing into no space.<br />I stand in awe of this device.<br />The platters are aluminum, the electronics are silicon, the wiring is copper, the magnets are neodymium iron boron, and the magnetic coating is iron and cobalt based.<br />Source: Electronics Store<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 28 February, 2009<br />Text Updated: 1 March, 2009<br />Price: $100<br />Size: 1.75" <br />Composition: AlSiCuCoFeNdB <br />Halite and Borax mixed crystal. <br />This is an attractive crystal of halite (basically salt) and borax (sodium borate) from the Rhodes salt marsh in Nevada.<br />Source: eBay seller ilickrocks<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 8 February, 2009<br />Text Updated: 8 February, 2009<br />Price: $5<br />Size: 1.5" <br />Composition: NaCl + Na2B4O7[CenterDot]10H2O <br /> <br />Londonite-Rhodizite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Londonite-Rhodizite series ( (Cs K Rb) Al4 Be4 (B Be)12 028 to Rb=0 for the pure Rhodizite cub.), Antandrokomby, Antsirabe`, Madagascar. Perfect isolated crystals. 1x0, 8x0, 7 cm the bigger; 2 g all.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 28 January, 2009<br />Text Updated: 29 January, 2009<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 0.4" <br />Composition: (CsKRb) Al4Be4 (BBe) 12028 <br />Elbaite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Elbaite (Na (Li Al)3 Al6 (BO3)3 Si6 O18 (OH)4 trig.), Minas Gerais, Brazil. Isolated, terminated crystal with rare pink-orange color. 2, 3x0, 8x0, 8 cm; 4 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 28 January, 2009<br />Text Updated: 29 January, 2009<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1" <br />Composition: Na (LiAl) 3Al6 (BO3)3Si6O18 (OH) 4 <br />Danburite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Danburite (Ca B2 (SiO4)2 orth.), Charcas, San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. Prismatic, geminated, partially translucent, good. 6, 5x2x1, 5 cm; 25 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 28 January, 2009<br />Text Updated: 29 January, 2009<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 2.6" <br />Composition: CaB2 (SiO4)2 <br />Ulexite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Ulexite (Na Ca B5 O6 (OH) 6x5 H2O tric.), Boron, California, USA. When viewed parallel to the fibers, Ulexite transmits light in a similar fashion to fiber optics. 3, 2x1, 5x1 cm; 8 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 27 December, 2008<br />Text Updated: 28 December, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1.25" <br />Composition: NaCaB5O6 (OH) 6.5(H2O) <br />Londonite-Rhodizite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Londonite-Rhodizite serie ((Cs K Rb) Al4 Be4 (B Be) 12 028 to Rb=0 for the pure Rhodizite cub.), Antandrokomby, Antsirabe`, Madagascar. Yellow, partially translucent crystals on matrix with tourmaline. I repeat these species also for other elements, but are very interesting and rich in rare elements. 3, 5x2, 5x1, 5 cm; 12 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 19 November, 2008<br />Text Updated: 20 November, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1.4" <br />Composition: (CsKRb) Al4Be4 (BBe) 12 <br />Danburite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Danburite (Ca B2 (SiO4)2 orth.), Charcas, San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. Prismatic, geminated. 4x2x1, 5 cm; 16 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 19 November, 2008<br />Text Updated: 20 November, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1.6" <br />Composition: CaB2 (SiO4)2 <br />Photo Card Deck of the Elements.<br />In late 2006 I published a photo periodic table and it's been selling well enough to encourage me to make new products. This one is a particularly neat one: A complete card deck of the elements with one big five-inch (12.7cm) square card for every element. If you like this site and all the pictures on it, you'll love this card deck. And of course if you're wondering what pays for all the pictures and the internet bandwidth to let you look at them, the answer is people buying my posters and cards decks. Hint hint.<br />Source: Theodore Gray<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 19 November, 2008<br />Text Updated: 21 November, 2008<br />Price: $35<br />Size: 5" <br />Composition: HHeLiBeBCNOFNeNaMg AlSiPSClArKCaScTiVCrMn FeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAg CdInSnSbTeIXeCsBaLaCePr NdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTm YbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTl PbBiPoAtRnFrRaAcThPaUNp PuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRf DbSgBhHsMtDsRgUubUutUuq UupUuhUusUuo <br />Manganaxinite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Manganaxinite (Ca2 Mn+2 Al2 B Si4 O15 (OH) tric.), Dalnegorsk, Russia. Brown greenish, bladed crystal cluster. 2,5x2x1,5 cm; 8 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 30 October, 2008<br />Text Updated: 31 October, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1" <br />Composition: Ca2Mn+2Al2BSi4O15 (OH) <br />Elbaite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Elbaite (Na (Li Al) 3 Al6 (BO3)3 Si6 O18 (OH)4 trig.), Stak Nala, Haramosh, Skardu, Baltistan, Pakistan. Fascicular crystals on matrix. 4x2, 5x1, 5 cm; 12 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 30 October, 2008<br />Text Updated: 31 October, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1.5" <br />Composition: Na (LiAl) 3Al6 (BO3)3Si6O18 (OH) 4 <br />Borosilicate glass Medallion. <br />I made this medallion for an article in my Popular Science column, using a charcoal grill to melt old borosilicate test tubes down and press them into a graphite mold.<br />Source: Theodore Gray<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 26 October, 2008<br />Text Updated: 16 April, 2009<br />Price: $1<br />Size: 2.5" <br />Composition: SiO2+Na2[B4O5(OH)4] <br />Londonite-Rhodizite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Londonite-Rhodizite serie ( (Cs K Rb) Al4 Be4 (B Be)12 028 to Rb=0 for the pure Rhodizite cub.), Antandrokomby, Antsirabe`, Madagascar. Rich in rubidium example, with Tourmaline (probably Liddicoatite). 3, 1x2, 5x2 cm; 22 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 30 September, 2008<br />Text Updated: 1 October, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 1.25" <br />Composition: (CsKRb) Al4Be4 (BBe) 12028 <br />Danburite. <br />Description from the source:<br />Danburite (Ca B2 (SiO4)2 orth.), Charcas, San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. White large terminated crystal. 7x4x1,8 cm; 70 g.<br />Source: Simone Citon<br />Contributor: John Gray<br />Acquired: 30 September, 2008<br />Text Updated: 1 October, 2008<br />Price: Trade<br />Size: 2.75" <br />Composition: CaB2 (SiO4)2 <br />Lanthanum Boride. <br />From the source:<br />This is a very old (relatively) research sample of lanthanum hexaboride. If that chemical name means anything to you, then you likely belong to the 0.01% of the living human population that has been privileged enough to have experience in the realm of electron microscopy, or possibly some other advanced technology involvingthe precise blasting of electrons.<br />The one and only industrial use for this compound (and the reason for this sample's existence) is as a cathode for emitting electrons into some sort of very expensive piece of equipment. Lanthanum hexaboride happens to have a very small " work function," which is basically a quantitative measure of how much energy it takes for the material to spontaneously spit out an electron. Low work function, more electrons per quanta of energy! It gets much more complicated and less fun (math math math) the more questions one asks, so we'll leave it at that.<br />So, nowadays, very small (around the size of a grain of sand) perfect single crystals of LaB6 are grown to be used as the most common filament in modern electron microscopes. When I say perfect, I mean that the surfaces of the crystal are not far off from being atomically flat. This is not actually accomplished through the growing process, but rather the post-growth treatment and " polishing." Other cathode materials can be used for various reasons (tungsten metal is still common), but lanthanum hexaboride is widely regarded as the best performing and most reliable. Which neatly segues to this sample: one glance tells us that this is not a single crystal, and it is actually a good-sized chunk. This piece dates from approximately 40 years ago, when lanthanum hexaboride was just discovered as an interesting material. I'm not quite sure which particular property was being investigated with this sample, but all of the compound's electronic properties were measured exhaustively--conductivity, Hall effect, and then that nifty work function. The large white patches and holes in the corners are an artifact of this battery of tests--wires were wrapped around the material through the holes, and an epoxy filled with tiny silver particles was applied to cement these measurement wires in place and guarantee a good electrical connection (so this is actually two element samples in one!). As for the wavy surface texture in the back, I'm not sure- certainly it ended up like that from whatever method was used to fabricate this small block of the material, but I'm not sure what might cause that particular appearance. Bathe in the purple glory of this beautiful and interesting compound that was completely unknown to science when your parents were in school (almost no matter who you are).<br />Source: Ethan Currens<br />Contributor: Ethan Currens<br />Acquired: 14 October, 2008<br />Text Updated: 1 March, 2009<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 1" <br />Composition: LaB6 <br />Tourmaline (Dravite variant). <br />I'm not sure why I have this mineral: I think it may have been a free sample included with some other mineral purchase. Lovely, though of relatively undistinguished chemical composition.<br />Source: Theodore Gray<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 20 September, 2005<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 1" <br />Composition: NaMg3Al6 (BO3)3[Si6O18](OH)3(OH) <br />Vicanite.<br />This small mineral is from the Vica Complex, Tre Croci, Italy, says the label. I bought it for its thorium content.<br />Source: eBay seller ley646<br />Contributor: Theodore Gray<br />Acquired: 20 September, 2005<br />Price: $15.50<br />Size: 0.5" <br />Composition: (Ca, Ce, La, Th) 15As (AsNa) FeSi6B4O40F7 <br />Ulexite from Jensan Set. <br />This sample represents boron in the " The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order. <br />Source: Jensan Scientifics<br />Contributor: Jensan Scientifics<br />Acquired: 17 March, 2003<br />Price: Donated<br />Size: 1" <br />Composition: NaCaB5O6 (OH) 6.5H2O <br />Crystalline Borax. (External Sample)<br />This lovely snow-white sample of natural borax is in the Harvard Museum of Natural History on the Harvard University campus. It was found in Kern, Co, California.<br />Location: The Harvard Museum of Natural History<br />Photographed: 2 October, 2002<br />Size: 18<br />Purity: <50% <br />